The reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for a string of attacks on Jehovah's Witnesses halls in the past year has been increased to up to $61,000 with the FBI offering up to $25,000 this week.
There have been seven attacks on Kingdom and Assembly Halls in Thurston County since March 2018. They are:
-- March 19, 2018: Two arson attacks happen on the same day; one at a Tumwater Kingdom Hall and the second at a Kingdom Hall on Cain Road in Olympia. Damage to both was minor.
-- May 15, 2018: A Kingdom Hall in Yelm was shot with about 35 .223 rifle rounds, causing more than $10,000 in damage.
-- July 3, 2018: An arson destroyed the Olympia Kingdom Hall on Cain Road. It was the same Kingdom Hall that was damaged on March 19.
-- Aug. 8, 2018: A fire was set against the back fence at the back of the Kingdom Hall in Yelm. Members were able to put the fire out and there was minimal damage. It happened at the same location where rifle rounds were fired at it on May 15.
-- Dec. 7, 2018: An arson destroyed the Lacey Kingdom Hall on 6th Ave SE.
-- Aug. 13, 2019: A fire was set at the Puyallup Assembly Hall on 62nd Ave E., causing relatively minor damage to an outside wall and overhang.
All of the incidents happened near one another and are believed to be related.
No one was hurt in any of the attacks.
The ATF said it believes the attacks were meant to send a message and the suspect(s) has a grievance related to the Jehovah's Witness community. The suspect(s) has likely shared those strong feelings with others, possibly through social media, according to the ATF.
The agency's profiler believes the suspect(s) may have also experienced changes in behavior:
- Dramatic and unexplained altering of physical appearance (growth or removal of facial hair, change in hair color or cut, etc.)
- Change in normal routines or habits, which might include missing work, classes, or previously scheduled appointments
- Unexplained injuries
- Intense interest in the status of the investigation
Anyone with information on the fires or shooting is asked to call the ATF's toll free hotline at 888-ATF-TIPS (283-8477), Crime Stoppers of South Sound at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or the Arson Alarm Foundation at 1-800-55-ARSON (1-800-552-7766). Callers may remain anonymous.
KIRO 7's previous coverage on the Kingdom Hall attacks in the South Sound is below.
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